The word luxury has lost meaning. What makes a car luxurious? Is it the badge? The size of the wheels? The thickness of the glass? How many square feet of leather are found in the cabin? Turns out it’s none of these things. A weekend in a Rolls-Royce Ghost reveals that true luxury lies in the details.
Rolls-Royce is the apex predator of comfort and class; burrowed into pop culture as transport for the plutocrats, autocrats, and other assorted potentates. Drive a Rolls-Royce and you are important. That’s how it is.
Leather coats the spacious cabin (of course), accompanied by elegant metal trim and buttons (naturally). Opt for the $43,850 Black Badge package, and along comes funky purple contrast piping and stitching, an even better sound system and lambswool foot mats (a must). Though the Ghost’s cabin layout hasn’t changed in over a decade, it’s a gloriously pleasant place to spend time. The seats are absurdly comfortable, the sound-deadening is sonic rigor mortis, and the ride is steadfast and stable. But none of those things are what put the Ghost ahead of its peers. It’s details that set Rolls apart from the pretend luxury brands.
Take the pedals. There’s a massive dead spot when depressing either the accelerator or brake pedals before either actually does anything. In the context of performance cars, this horrendous lack of instant gratification is perplexing. But on the Ghost, the dampening makes perfect sense. This car isn’t meant to be instantly responsive, it’s meant to be reassuring and comfortable. These easygoing pedals mean the car is never subject to jerkiness or anything but smooth operation. When the pedals actually do work, their action glides in gradually. Coming to a stop or accelerating from standstill, movement is smooth and confident. The goal isn’t driver satisfaction, it’s occupant serenity. And the dampened pedals allow the driver to deliver that elegance easily.
Then there are the switches. Almost every button, toggle switch, or rotary knob you touch is solidly mounted and expertly damped to provide the utmost user satisfaction. Moreover, they make hardly any audible noise when pressed or spun. Each is engineered to be pleasant to use while also totally silent, so they don’t bother occupants when pressed. This is real luxury, people.
The classic Rolls gimmicks are here, too. The lambswool floor mats are so soft and plush you’ll feel bad stepping on it with shoes (remove your shoes entirely to get the mats’ full soothing effect). Glance up and you’ll be greeted to the company’s coolest feature, the signature “Starlight” headliner. It uses hundreds of hand-placed fiber-optic lights to mimic a clear night sky, and is absolutely epic, particularly at night. The best part is, there’s a rocker switch that allows you to adjust the brightness of the stars so they’re easier to see during the day and not as distracting in low-light situations. Another thing is how far down the front seats go. Seven-foot-tall basketball players, this is the car for you.
It’s this kind of stuff, stuff that can’t be marketed, stuff that can’t be shown through pictures on billboards or videos on Instagram, that make the difference. It’s this attention to detail that elevates the Ghost to an entirely different level of car. Somehow, a starting price of $393,500 makes sense.
That vibe continues to the driving experience. The Ghost is a driver’s car in a different sort of way. It doesn’t have sharp steering or incredible cornering capabilities. Despite the 6.75-liter twin-turbo V-12 making 591 hp and 663 lb-ft of torque, it doesn’t have much of an exhaust note either. But refinement is off the chart. Every input has been engineered so as not to overburden the driver. The steering is silky and light, while the air suspension turns massive bumps into tiny blips. Is it fast? Kind of. In most situations you’ll barely dip into the “Power Reserve” gauge on the cluster to get up to speed, the engine humming along under-stressed. Step on it and a fat gob of torque carries evenly to redline. The Ghost gets going quickly—very quickly, in fact—but it’s not what the car was designed to do.
From the outside, the Ghost’s intentions are clear. The body carries a monolithic, stately design that’s as imposing as it is handsome. The Black Badge trim darkens the window surrounds, badges, grille, and Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament, and adds lovely 21-inch wheels. The Black Badge’s lack of reflective chrome highlights the body’s purposeful lines, though most people will be staring at the illuminated grille. The upholstery’s purple contrast piping extends outside in as a single pinstripe, adorned atop the $15,900 Burnout Grey paint job. People won’t have any problem identifying this Ghost for what it is: A true symbol of the upper class.
The Ghost is the “cheapest” sedan in the brand’s lineup, dwarfed by the all-imposing Phantom. Yet it still has a presence seemingly no car can match. People look and stare not just at the car, but whomever might be in the driver’s seat. Remember, if you drive a Rolls-Royce, you’re important. Even if you’re just borrowing it for the weekend. And for some people, that extra level of luxury is worth the price of entry.
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